July 21, 2014

Following the Spirit

Dear Mom,

Haha, yeah, that would have been fun. Oh well. It sounds like everyone's having a great summer. I like the picture of Steven's team too, it really does look like just a bunch of buddies. Especially since everyone else is standing all nicely and they're all making faces and whatnot. Haha.

So this week...on Monday we had a nice relaxing day of getting all our stuff done, which is my favourite kind of P-day. All the activities we do are nice and all, but mostly I just enjoy feeling like everything's in place and then having time to sit in my apartment and unwind. After P-day, we went park contacting for a bit and then we went to go contact a referral. To our surprise, he said his daughter told him we were coming and to come back tomorrow because he had questions. Sweet! So we spent the rest of the evening knocking a street, and we got 4 potentials, which was a lot more success than we usually get! One guy was involved in an AWFUL burn accident and he had such a strong faith in God that got him through. It was really inspiring.

On Tuesday we had district meeting, which was all about working with the members effectively. It was a pretty good meeting, nothing special though. After that, we went home for a quick lunch and then we went biking around downtown talking to people, which I remember absolutely nothing about. I think that might have been the day the JW's had a stand downtown because the cruise ships were in and so everyone thought we were JW's and were super uninterested. After that, we had a DA with the Boutlier family, who are super awesome. We talked a lot about helping the less-actives with them and they came up with some things they can do on their own, and then we talked about making a vision for yourself as a member missionary. Brother Boutlier is super enthusiastic but Sister Boutlier just isn't confident at all, so we worked to help her understand that "not being uncomfortable with missionary work" is TOTALLY a vision and also something that makes sense to work towards, so that you can stop feeing uncomfortable, and we committed them to do roleplays in FHE about sharing the gospel. So that was a pretty cool member visit. After the DA, we went to see the referral from Monday again, but they were busy, so we fixed a definite time for the next day and then went knocking. We met a pretty cool guy who was really old and Presbyterian, but seemed like he would have let us in if someone else had been there. He told us his wife died of anorexia at 42 and it was really sad. We sent the elders over later and they had a good talk but he didn't have any real intent in the end. After that, we stopped by some less-actives and managed to talk to Sister Jackson, the mother-in-law of some people here who's visiting from Scotland. Her accent was pretty awesome. She had a super sad story and basically didn't want to open herself up to dealing with it in order to return to activity, which was just super sad. I think so often, we go through something hard and all we see is the temporary difficulty of dealing with it now, instead of the eternal perspective that it's going to be worse to never work through those things. So basically no matter what we said, the Spirit couldn't testify because she'd already decided she wouldn't listen to it. Sad. We went home and planned and I was thinking about how to have more success and I decided I needed to try to follow the Spirit more, so I prayed and told the Lord I'd do what He prompted me to do and committed to try to ask for His opinion more, and the rest of the week has been really awesome since then.

On Wednesday we went biking around in the morning before lunch in order to talk to 10 people by noon (a zone goal), and then we biked home for lunch. We live on top of a hill about half an hour away from where all the people are, so the ride home is just one giant half-hour hill. After lunch, we were going to stop by a member, but Sister Hughes forgot that they live WAY too far away to bike, so instead we followed up on some potentials and stuff before coming back to drive to correlation at the church. That was a good meeting, as always, but it went super long so we stopped at Tim Horton's on the way to picking up a member for our lesson with Darlene and Murray, the referrals we'd been trying to contact all week. It was pretty cool because a few weeks ago we stopped by the member and resolved her concerns about hypothetically coming to a lesson with us, and it totally payed off because when we called her this week she was just like, "yeah sure!" We had a pretty good lesson. They sound kind of like eternal investigators, but they also have some pretty good intentions. Murray had all these weird questions where I could tell he'd been hearing a lot of anti, all about Kolob and whatnot, which was kind of frustrating, so I basically tried to direct it back to basic principles and we ended up getting to teach the Saviour's Earthly Ministry through the Book of Mormon and explained how it's the evidence that we have priesthood authority. But then we missed a TOTALLY golden opportunity because Darlene had to leave really suddenly at the end without warning us beforehand, and just then Murray was like, "Yeah we've been looking at getting immersion baptized," and that would have been a GREAT time to be like, "Well since you want to be baptized anyways, maybe you should see if there's church with the PRIESTHOOD while you're at it!" (Not in those exact words, but you know.) Anyways, they didn't seem like they were super interested in actually deciding if our church was true or not or anything, it was basically more of a curiosity thing than anything else for them at the moment, so we didn't really pick them up but we'll probably stop by in a few weeks now that we know what their deal is and see if we can build their intent to actually find out. I think they just don't want to open themselves up to the possibility of such a big social change by deciding to look into whether the church is true or not. After that, we stopped by this one LA family that we didn't know anything about, but Sister Hughes was feeling strongly about. Our branch president said he didn't know much about them and the elders said they always avoided missionaries, but somehow (the Spirit) things worked out perfectly so that we got to have a really long chat with Sister P on the porch. She has a son who's gay and even though she has a testimony, she's just really stressed out that he'll feel rejected or that other people will be rude. So we got to resolve concerns there and it was one of those really cool moments where you know you just followed the Spirit PERFECTLY and you were exactly where Heavenly Father wanted you to be, talking to exactly who He wanted you to talk to in that moment.

On Thursday we took some time in the morning to do some member records in the morning and work on the area book, and then we had lunch and went street contacting. It was SO HOT. And it was super windy. We had to pedal to go downhill, the rare flat parts felt like uphill, and going uphill felt like death. We went street contacting downtown and ran into an old potential who made a new appointment with us, and we stopped by a member's work that the sisters also used to volunteer at and talked to Sister Fennel and set up a time to see her later that evening. We had a member visit with this one lady who's active, but has some mental health issues (the branch president asked us to stop by) and we tried to stop by Joline, one of our non-progressing investigators, but she wasn't home. And we'd done street contacting and whatnot and we basically realized that somehow we had two hours for dinner and no solid plans, which was really weird. So the best thing we could think of to do was to go to Staples and get some supplies we needed for our records and stuff, but the mall was REALLY far away. We biked there anyways, and while we were there I got a bike carrier bag so I wouldn't have to bike with a purse on all the time. We ended up eating at the mall since we were STARVING and then we biked all the way home (literally across Sydney) and went to see Sister Fennel. We went over the Stop Smoking Program, since she was going to be Julie's member fellowshipper for it, and also offered to go visiting teaching with her, since she loves it but apparently her companions have made it difficult to get done. Then while we were there, another member who lives in the same apartment complex as her came outside, so we talked to Sister Parks for a bit and she said she'd been having computer problems, so I ended up getting to explain to her how to log into her accounts on the internet on her tablet, that the spinney circle means "wait", and I put an icon on her desktop for lds.org since she didn't know how to get to it from the internet. Then we tried to share a thought about member missionary work, but she was really talkative, so I'm not sure how much sunk in. That ate up a lot of our evening, and then Harold's lesson cancelled and I'm not sure if we got anything effective done then since we only had like 20 minutes.

Friday was weekly planning, and then we loaded up our bikes and drove to Glace Bay. We parked there and biked to the hospital to visit a member there who was recently reactivated, and then we basically biked around and stopped by potentials and knocked and whatnot. For some reason, we'd felt REALLY good about being in Glace Bay, even though it's a bit far, but we weren't really accomplishing much from what I could see. But then we stopped by this one former investigator, who I'll call Mary even though that's not her name. Both she and her husband were formers, but when we got there her husband was just on his way out. As soon as she left she just broke down crying. Apparently he's really abusive, and she'd been praying for help and we showed up the very next day. It was really special. So we got to uplift her and offer support and figured out some ways we could continue to meet with her and get her out to church things and whatnot to get away from it sometimes. It was really humbling to see that the Lord would trust us to be His hands in helping someone like that. After that, we had quinoa salad in the car and then we had barely any time left before we had to drive home, so we ended up going street contacting/getting ice cream (because super healthy food is vaguely unsatisfying). When we came out of the ice cream parlour, this man stopped us. Apparently he used to be a member and he'd seen us biking around, and he'd been feeling the need for something more in his life and he remembered how happy he'd been when he joined the church. It was another "right place at the right time" moment and we took his information to give to the elders. (I love it when "inspiration" and "getting ice cream" coincide.)

On Saturday we worked on the member book again, and then we had to race to get our 10 contacts before noon. We went to Wentworth Park, and the North Sydney elders were there, so we went downtown, and the Eskazoni elders were there! It was pretty funny. We couldn't get anything done. Haha. We biked around contacting some more potentials and whatnot, and then went back to the part to meet Sister Farrell, since Sister Fennel couldn't make it to our lesson with Julie. We went over the program with her, but then when Julie showed up she ended up telling us all about how her boyfriend was basically making her use drugs, and she knows what Heavenly Father wants her to do but it's really hard, and all her concerns about leaving him. It's been pretty crazy to see that as soon as we just commit to do whatever Heavenly Father wants us to do to help people the most in this area, He just starts sending us all these abused women. So Sister Farrell was great for that lesson, and she left committed to move out, which was fantastic. After that, our plans had been to stop by and visit Sister Farrell (since our member present plans changed that morning after we'd planned the day), so we had ANOTHER chunk of time unplanned, since the rest of the time was "bike to Whitney Pier and back and talk to people along the way." (Planning for bikes is just very different from what I've done before.) So we ended up stopping by some potentials, which I felt really good about, but none were home. We left sticky notes for them and finally went to Target to get some dividers for our member records, and we met some pretty cool people in that parking lot, which was neat. After that, we went home and had supper, which was fantastic since we never ended up having lunch. We ended up extending supper to plan our YW lesson and a musical number for an 8-year-old's baptism the next day, since we were SO sunburned and we felt like we needed to wait until the sun had abated a bit before we went outside. Then we went biking to the street we planned to knock, and inadvertently discovered the boundary between Sydney and Sydney River, where the elders live, so that was neat. We met a really cool girl on the way who was visiting from Victoria, and she said that she really appreciated that we were having conversations with people instead of being pushy, which was great since that's something our mission has really been focusing on in contacting. The street we knocked had hardly anyone on it -- the only real door approach we had was with a lady who was just in her underwear and smoking a cigarette, and claimed to be an active JW. I didn't even know what to say to that one.

Sunday was church, as usual, but Harold didn't come and Sister Farrell said that Julie didn't answer. Apparently her dogs didn't even bark either, so maybe she left already. The Eskazoni elders had a family come, which was cool. Sister Hughes taught Gospel Principles and then I taught YW on what it means to take the name of Christ upon you. It was kind of improvised since we never got the printer to work, but it ended up being really good. After church there was the baptism. We sang "Lord, Accept Into Thy Kingdom" to the tune of "In Humility, Our Saviour." The elders ended up joining in last minute, so we ended up with an a cappella quartet. It sounded SO GOOD for not really rehearsing it. We had to transpose it up because the bass was a little low for them, and I'm not sure when I got okay at singing in public or singing that high. So that was neat. After the baptism, there were refreshments and whatnot, and then we drove out to Dominion and started biking. For some reason it was just SO HARD that day, like my brain got tired of all the effort of biking and was just like, "Nope, no matter how much we exercise, I'm not making any endorphins to go along with it." We started knocking but the first house gave us a referral for somewhere else in Dominion, and somehow without even discussing it Sister Hughes and I both knew we were just going to leave the street and head over there. On the way we ran into some members, who invited us inside for some water, and we ended up sharing a thought with them. It took a WHILE since they were clearly used to missionaries hanging out, and usually I'd have felt bad for how long the visit took, but for some reason I just left feeling really refreshed and edified and motivated, so I guess that's what we were supposed to do. We went to check the referral and the address wasn't very exact, so we ended up contacting people by tracking down the referral, and in the process we got another referral who turned out to be a pretty cool potential as well. We finally met the original referral, who wasn't interested. The interesting this is, the elders had just knocked that area a week ago, and I think it was the Lord's way of getting us to follow up on some seeds planted there. So then we went to check a member referral, but they were busy, and so we had more quinoa salad in the car before trying to track down a LA. She didn't live there anymore, so we ended up feeling really good about stopping by another member family. We ended up having a GREAT discussion on praying for missionary opportunities with real intent, plus they fed us crackers and cheese and cookies and candy. Haha.

So basically, it was a pretty great week as far as following the Spirit goes. Now we just have to exert ourselves and do all that's required to get some baptisms :)

Sister Olson

Us biking

My helmet hair

After Sophia's baptism with Sister Davison and all the missionaries

Me trying to figure out where we're going. (This happens about 20 times a day)
A cool sunset on Saturday night

Me with our bikes on Sunday

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